Dan Quayle

The title isn’t really true.  I just wanted to paraphrase one of my all time favorite political doofuses (uh doofi?) Dan Quayle.

Some good progress today on Summermoon Fire after a horrible week of struggling over two or three sentences. I wonder sometimes if it is better to give up, or keep on pushing myself. On the one hand it is a waste of time to sit at the computer hour after hour, waiting for inspiration, and mostly just scanning the headlines on Google news. But on the other hand, if I hadn’t sat down today, then I wouldn’t have been visited by Chloe, my lovely muse.

The main thing is I managed to finish the sticky chapter, and now I get to move into fresh territory.

Last week I was on a bit of a high. After all, I had two books atop Mushroom’s bestseller list. I was working on book III, and felt as though I might have it ready to send off soon. I had a cover design I was happy with.

Now I am suffering not from writer’s block, but something more like writer’s depression.

It started when Ketha fell from the #1 spot. Yes, I know it had to happen, but couldn’t it have lasted just a little bit longer? (more…)

I have been writing my whole life–poetry, short stories, journals–but it is only in the past five years that I have made the jump into longer works of fiction. I tried to write several novels in the past, but I never could seem to get more than a few thousand words into them before I would lose motivation. Part of the reason would be that my life was way more busy and complicated back then, with three children born in the space of four years, and a job, and a not-so-helpful husband. But I digress. In the last three years I have written three complete novels, and not once did I lose interest or have any trouble keeping the plot moving in the right direction.

Then came book #4. (more…)

I have finished my last perusal of Book II, and found a distressing number of things I wanted to change. So I made the changes, looked at it quickly one last time, and sent it off to my publisher. I never know when to call things finished. How do you tell when something is good enough? I am sure, if I were a painter, I would stand for hours before my canvas, applying little bitty dabs of paint here and there, trying to get the picture “perfect.” But would I know when to quit? I don’t think so. (more…)

I might have mentioned that writing is a lonely job. It requires self-discipline, patience, stubbornness, and a thick skin. You will develop these traits over time if you stay in this business, because if you don’t, then you won’t stay.

But there is help.

The first thing to do is find a writing partner, who will critique your work, and allow you to critique theirs. You can learn much from reading other people’s first drafts. See what kind of things work, and what doesn’t, and things you can avoid or use in your own writing. A partner also provides you with social contact, a shoulder to cry on, and an encouraging pat on the back when you need one. And you do the same for them. It is the single best thing you can do to further your writing career.

Second is to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat healthily, and most importantly, get some exercise. Make it a priority to get a half an hour walk in each day. You can think about writing while you are walking, or ideally talk about it with your writing partner, who is out for a walk with you.

Third would be to take a writing class or seminar. You can learn a lot from a well taught class and being able to talk to a published author (who is hopefully teaching the class) will give you insights into the business.

Lastly, there will be days when you don’t want to write anything. If it is just one day, then give yourself a holiday. No one needs to work every day. But if one day goes to two and two stretches into a week, then you have to make yourself get into it again. The best way to do this is–just do it. Start writing, wherever you left off. Don’t worry if its crap. You can always revise it later. Set yourself a goal. Five hundred words in two hours, or something like that. Then do it. Eventually the words will start flowing again.

That is a great feeling.

I spent most of today going over the bits of Ketha’s Daughter that my writing buddy, Mike and I talked about last night.  He was in a particularly critical mood, so I had to do a lot of defending.  Sometimes he is right, and sometimes he is wrong, but he always helps me to clarify my own thinking.  I did need to cut out some of the flab in the passages we discussed, and today I did just that.  It is hard, because I am in love with all the words I write.  But sometimes things just have to go anyway, in the service of creating a coherent whole.